Before the bedroom reveal… Fireplace makeover.
So, my whole ‘thing’ was “renovating my Victorian terrace, one room at a time”. Yeah, there was no way that was going to happen. I’m far too impatient for that. Whilst decorating the bedroom and generally prettifying it, I was simultaneously destroying the sittingroom. The fireplace, to be precise. Bring on the second fireplace makeover.
It was always a given that it was going to be ripped out. I’m sorry if it’s your style, you might want to look away now. For me, the proportions were all wrong for the room. The hearth came waaaay out and it was just so low! It also reminded me of the building in Ghostbusters… the bit where Gozer returns in human form. That really wasn’t the look I wanted for my front room.
I had an idea in my head of the style I wanted and an idea of proportions. I also had an idea of budget. By that, I mean that I knew I couldn’t afford to go out and buy what I wanted. Or so I thought.
Thank fuck for Gumtree!!
Look at this bad boy!
Solid oak, removed form a property not too dissimilar from mine, nearby, and… best of all.. FIFTY QUID!!!
Yoink! I’ll take that thanks!
*Weirdly, this is the picture that was on Gumtree. Spookily similar to my place!
Surround bought, I set about commencing the fireplace makeover. It was demolition time.
Oh. My. God. That thing did not want to budge.
I think the manufacturers intended it to be able to withstand wars. The amount of steel running through it was crazy. I know concrete needs reinforcing but there was heaps!! Big flat bars of the stuff!
Once the surround was out, it was the messy task of removing the brickwork from the back of the fire. This is a horrible job, for which you must wear a mask. The bricks are all packed with vermiculite, a fireproof material that you really don’t want to be breathing in. Messy.
Once the utter chaos had been cleared up, it was time to make good the destruction. I had already decided that I was going to install a bio-ethanol fire in the space, therefore I didn’t need to get any professionals in, other than to remove the original gas tap thingy from beside the fireplace (I’m not quite sure what it’s function was).
Having attached the surround to the wall, I used wooden 2″ x 1″ battens and concrete board to frame up the hole and to provide a strong base for tiling. The hearth was built up using some of the old fire bricks and a good layer of concrete, poured within a frame mould, made from old wood. I should’ve photographed this stage but completely forgot. Oops!
Using the bio-ethanol burner as a size guide, I left a hole in the concrete base, so that it could be sunk down level.
In an ideal world, I would’ve used solid marble to face up the insert of the fire. Sadly, I’m quite poor, so that was no from the start. However, I found this stone ‘effect’ tile that had the perfect pattern and grey tones at a fraction of the cost of real stone. It also looks really good up close! (though you won’t be able to tell from these grainy before pics!)
Now, although the surround is solid oak (I can hear folk moaning already!) I really didn’t want a ‘wooden’ surround. Again, stone would’ve been my first choice, but the shape of this surround was perfect. So, I painted it. Yeah yeah, I know, you would think I would’ve learnt my lesson from the bedroom fireplace… but this time there were no doubts! And this time, I do not regret it!
After all that hard work, I can definitely say that the end result of the fireplace makeover was worth it. The scale and proportion works so much better and the simple, classic shape doesn’t dictate the style of the room.
It’s the fireplace that this house deserves.
* oh! I forgot to say the best bit! The whole thing came in at under £230!! About a tenth of what it would’ve cost me if I wanted to buy similar!